Dedicated to the progress and advancement of all paralegals.

Mentor Blog

Welcome to our mentor blog. Here you will find posts from
industry professionals on such topics as:
  • Resume & Cover Letter tips
  • Interview Tips
  • How to succeed at work
  • How to get a Mentor
  • What every Mentee should know
  • I lost my job. Now what?
  • Healthy habits
  • 02 Oct 2011 9:37 AM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    Where are your old work horses?
    Don't put them out to pasture! Make them leaders for life.
    By: Vicki Voisin, ACP

     
    Where do the officers of your association go when their terms of office are completed?

    Are they turned out to pasture like these old horses, simply roaming free and no longer concerned with the future of the association?

    You may think your past officers have earned the right to roam free, but what they have really earned is the privilege of not working quite so hard.

    These past leaders remain vital to the continuity of the association. Their leadership skills, talent and expertise are needed to keep your association moving forward.

    Instead of squandering all that knowledge and experience, harness those old horses and bring them back to the barn. Appoint them Leaders for Life and keep them involved.

    This doesn't mean the past leaders should be circulated back through the chairs, though. Your association will fold if the same old horses keep on doing all the work.

    How should you use your Leaders for Life? This is simple. Tell them how valuable they are to your association and ask them what they'd be willing to do. You'll be pleasantly surprised that they're not exactly happy out in the pasture and are willing to help in any way they can.

    Here are some excellent ways to use the talents of your Leaders for Life:

    • Planning meetings and educational events. Past leaders are pros at planning and they usually have the connections to draw upon to make your conventions a smashing success.
    • Speakers. Past leaders usually have a wealth of professional knowledge and experience and make excellent speakers for your seminars.
    • Ad Hoc Committees. Do you have a short term issue that needs to be handled? Appoint the past officers.
    • Special Committees. Past officers make excellent members of special committees, such as those for scholarships and awards.
    • Liaisons. Appoint the past officers liaisons to special groups, such as the bar association and paralegal schools.
    • Officer orientation. Past officers have extremely valuable experience and knowledge, not to mention their finely honed leadership skills. Bring them in to share this with the new officers as they're taking the reins.
    • Mentors. The experiences of the past offices, as well as their tactful counsel, make excellent mentors for current and upcoming leaders.
    • Certification review courses or other certification-related issues. Your past leaders have "been there, done that" so they are perfect candidates for leading review courses and they're also great cheerleaders for those who are seeking certification. Their history makes them perfect choices when your association has certification-related issues.

    There are also tips for the Leaders for Life who have been corralled:

    • Become a member of the team. Let them know you will help and assist any way you can. Be available when they need you.
    • Become a steady resource. Nurture, encourage and empower the members and officers. Be sure they're comfortable asking for your advice and direction but don't insist that they do everything your way.
    • Be gracious. You may not always agree with the new leaders, but allow them to forge their own future. Don't say "we did it this way" or "our way was better". Times do change...they need to change...and the 'old way' may not be the best way any longer.
    • Give only what you can. You may not have the time or the energy you once had. That's OK because you can help on many levels. Anything you do for the association is needed and will be appreciated.
    • Be miserly with your criticism and lavish with your praise. Leaders for Life boost members' self-esteem and help them reach their full potential. This is how future Leaders for Life get their training.
    • Set a good example. The members and current officers will learn from your style and your grace.
    • Try not to serve on the Board again. If it becomes necessary for you to take a Board position, do your job without taking over. Let the new leaders have the limelight.

    Former officers and board members should not simply sit back and let the newer members fend for themselves. While their terms of office are over, they are still leaders of the association and the profession. Their knowledge and expertise, as well as the history they share, are still very much needed. It's up to the current leaders and members recognize their value, invite them back, make them useful, and insist that they be Leaders for Life.

    ==============================

    © 2011 Vicki Voisin, Inc.
    Vicki Voisin, "The Paralegal Mentor", delivers simple strategies for paralegals and other professionals to create success and satisfaction by setting goals and determining the direction they will take their careers. Vicki spotlights resources, organizational tips, ethics issues, and other areas of continuing education to help paralegals and others reach their full potential. She publishes Paralegal Strategies, a weekly e-newsletter for paralegals, and co-hosts The Paralegal Voice, a monthly podcast produced by Legal Talk Network.

    More information is available at www.paralegalmentor.com where subscribers receive Vicki's 151 Tips for Your Career Success.


     

     

  • 11 Sep 2011 10:05 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    This article was reprinted with permission from The Paralegal Society
    a forum created to educate, motivate and inspire paralegals.
    Be sure to check it out at:
    www.theparalegalsociety.wordpress.com!

    As a mentor and President of New York City Paralegal Association, I am often approached by members and non-member of our association with a request to assist to find a job or, at least, an internship. They tell me that they sent dozens of resumes weekly and didn’t receive even a single phone call in return. They blame economy, greedy employers or lazy agents, their decision to become a paralegal and even the time of the day and weather conditions.

    My first question to them is always the same: “Can I see your resume?” Some responded “oh, my resume is perfect” and others say “my resume was professionally prepared” or an even better one: “I used it 20 years ago and got a job at a first shot.” I believe all of you, but another pair of eyes never hurts. You will be surprised at what people call a “perfect” or “professionally prepared” resume. And forget about those resumes that landed you a job in the last century. 

    There are so many reasons for lack of response from prospective employers that following a few simple steps and avoiding some common mistakes will leave your wondering of why you didn’t think about them before hand. Your resume is your first and foremost marketing tool. It is your PR representative and you want it to look the best.

    So, if you are ready, let’s look at some mistakes that candidates make on their resumes:

    It is all about me: wrong. Remember, it is not about you or that you need a job – it is about the prospective employer and their business. Your summary should reflect what they are looking for, not that you are looking for. Instead of “looking for a paralegal position where I can professionally grow,” think about how the employer can benefit from hiring you by showing them that your education and experience will save them money, streamline process and bring value to the company.  However, don’t make your summary too long ever. In the best case, nobody will read it. In the worst case, it will be the end of your application process.

    Remember, employers and agents review hundreds of resumes a day and you have only 10 seconds to grab their attention. Your summary should be written around the specific needs of the employer, but, if it won’t be read, it shouldn’t squash your resume.  Avoid that generic “paralegal school graduate looking for an entry level position,” summary tagline, even if you graduated with 4.0 GPA and your school is the cherry on the top on the paralegal sundae. If you won’t be looking, why do you need to prepare your resume in the first place?

    I have a lot of experience: do you really want to list them all? Chances are that if your resume is more than one page, nobody will read past first one. (I heard from many agents that two pages are ok, but I am a strict stickler to one page only). Once, I saw five pages resume where a candidate spelled out all her jobs starting from a high school assistant to a cheerleader (huh? An assistant to a cheerleader?) and had held about 25 jobs in the past 35 years. There are many problems with listing all of them. First of all, her experience as an assistant to a cheerleader 35 years ago is irrelevant to the position of paralegal in that multinational law corporation she is dreaming about. Secondly, she just showed her age. Yes, I know, it is illegal to discriminate by age, but…for an entry level paralegal, they can find a young fellow with a college degree, don’t they? The next turn-off point: was she a job-hopper?

    SO, what is the best option? Keep it short. Instead of a chronological resume, use a functional one. List the last 10 to 15 years of your experience and, if possible, combine your jobs. For example, one of members told me that her company merged three times and she survived all merges. She listed all of companies separately and it looked like she changed her jobs three times. In reality, she worked for a company for more than 10 years, growing from an entry level paralegal to an office manager. The solution: combine them all as “ABC Law Office formerly CBA Law Office; firm merged with Law Office of AAA in December 1999.”

    But what about my age? If you don’t bring it up on your resume, nobody will penalize you for it. Your first job is to get that interview, isn’t it?

    I have a degree in anthropology and paralegal certificate. I will list my BS in anthropology first: wrong. Are you applying for a position in a museum of natural history or for a paralegal gig? List your most relevant degree first. If you have a high GPA – don’t forget to add it. AND if you graduated from an ABA-approved program – make it visible.  

    I don’t have a real life experience. I only volunteered in the court. Was that court a fake one? Didn’t you assist attorneys, judges, claimants and court personnel? Or did you just sit in a chair and read your favorite magazine a whole time? Nobody asks you to list your salary on a resume. You need to show your experience not how much you earned. Assisting in the court is your experience. Participating in pro bono clinics run by your college, local paralegal association or Bar association is your experience. List them all in the proper form and order.

    I don’t need to proofread my resume. English is my first language. English is not my first language and I am not prone to misspelling words. I don’t need to spell out here that some words can’t be picked up by a spellchecker as they were spelled correctly, but misused. Somehow, I see someone’s mistakes faster when my own. The employer has the same if not better “magic” vision for all your misspelled words, grammatically incorrect structures and missed comas and periods at the end of sentences. Proofread it! Have someone else proofread it! Period. 

    I have a great resume that I send out as my response to all open positions. Really? I don’t believe that there is a “one size fits all” resume, as I don’t believe that aspirin is the best medicine (but I do believe that chicken soup is a magic elixir)!  I believe that if your resume clearly matches the needs of the employer, you will get that long awaited phone call or e-mail. If you don’t customize your resume each and every time you are sending it out (and your cover letter too – but this is a part of a different story), you have lost your “elevator pitch” – that ten second window when you actually had a chance to grab an employer’s attention. The employer has moved on to another one already…

    I like to knit and hike. Great! But does your future employer really looking for your hand knitted pair of mittens or that you hiked Himalayans Mountains last summer? It would be a great addition to a “water cooler” talk when you are hired, but keep it off your resume, please. However, if you are a member of a professional association or have awards, don’t forget to list them. Just don’t keep them on the top of your resume. They belong next to your skills…that brings me to the last, but not the least crucial mistake that some make on their resume.

    I am hardworking multitasking team player that works well under the pressure. Excellent! We need people like you, but keep those skills for your cover letter and interview. We are talking about your technical skills here: knowledge of software and research engines (Microsoft Office, Lexis-Nexis, Westlaw, etc.), some other field specific programs and another language. Just remember: fluent in language means “fluent.”  If you understand the “kitchen talk,” but can’t translate a document or assist during the meeting with a client undefined you are not fluent. You can list it as “some conversational” language if you think it will assist you.

    There are many, more points that can make or break your resume, and I will bring them up to you under separate cover (yes…please look forward to another fabulous article authored by yours truly in the future).

    However, there is one key piece of advice that I would like to emphasize prior to us parting ways: “Don’t lie!!!” Never, ever, ever lie on your resume! If you didn’t graduate, don’t say “graduated.” You can list the name of the school and number of credits. If you worked for two months, don’t stretch them to one year. It is better to have a two month gap on your resume. Remember: all information can be verified. Think twice!

    Good luck and looking forward to hear from you!

    © The Paralegal Society – All Rights Reserved – Reprinted with Permission

    This article was first posted at http://theparalegalsociety.wordpress.com/2011/08/29/are-you-sure-you-have-a-winning-resume/

  • 28 Jul 2011 9:10 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    12 Career Lessons from the Garden

    By: Vicki Voisin, ACP


    As I was working in my garden this past weekend...digging, weeding, planting and transplanting...I noticed the parallels between all the flowers and a paralegal career.

    There are lessons to be learned from the soil and the plants:

    1. A successful garden involves careful planning and consistent action, as well as dreams and anticipation. Gardens don't grow and flourish without a little help from a skillful, attentive gardener who thinks about what will grow best, plans for successful results, dreams of a bountiful harvest, and looks forward with anticipation to the good results.

    Your career requires the same planning for the future, dreams of what your career should look like, the knowledge that the steps you take today will impact your future, and consistent action to bring your dreams to fruition.

    All of the flowers of tomorrow are the seeds of yesterday.
    ~Proverb

    2. Regular maintenance is essential. Just as gardens require regular, ongoing maintenance such as weeding and feeding, so does your paralegal career. Your career's "regular, ongoing maintenance" should include continuing legal education, particularly ethics education, reading Lawyer's Weekly and your State Bar's publication so you're on top of case law and changes in court rules, and attending live meetings and conventions...for two purposes: learning and networking.

    3. The growing process can't be rushed. Every plant begins small and takes the season, sometimes several seasons, to reach its full potential. A paralegal career develops over time...and usually slowly... beginning with education, then a job, and then all of the experience and experiences necessary to reach your full potential. Be patient but be sure you working on your career growth every day.

    Growth takes time. Be patient. And while you're waiting, pull a weed.
    ~Emilie Barnes

    4. Put down roots. The deeper a plant's roots, the more stable it becomes and the more nutrients it can reach. Your paralegal career needs the roots you put down when you join local, state and national associations. Beyond joining, though, become involved and your "roots" will reach all the nutrients you need for career growth and satisfaction.

    5. Nourishment is required. Gardens need just the right amount of water and sunshine to nourish the plants. Your career also requires nourishment...you can't stop in your tracks once you get your first job or your career will wilt on the vine.

    Taking a certification examination is the best nourishment for your career. This will demonstrate your skills and expertise and set you apart from paralegals that fail to nourish their careers.

    6. Stretch! Tiny plants are drawn out of their comfort zone by the sunshine as they grow and thrive. Take the time to "stretch" in your career. If you stay in the same place forever, if you don't reach toward the sunshine and take a few chances, your career will be stale. Growth is good!

    Every gardener knows under the cloak of winter lies a miracle...
    a seed waiting to sprout, a bulb opening to light, a bud straining to unfurl.
    And the anticipation nurtures our dreams.

    ~Barbara Winkler

    7. Make the most of a difficult situation. Flowers deal with inclement weather, nasty weeds, poor soil, and persistent insects, yet they grow and flourish. Like flowers, paralegals may not always have ideal working conditions. There may be difficult co-workers, endless responsibilities, impossible deadlines, etc.

    To flourish in your career, end your arguments with reality and look for ways to deal with...and overcome...those difficult conditions and obstacles. When you do, your career will thrive and to grow.

    The fair-weather gardener, who will do nothing except when the wind
    and weather and everything else are favorable, is never master of his craft.

    ~ Henry Ellacomb

    8. Create a network. A single Daffodil doesn't attract much attention. A bed of Daffodils makes a dramatic statement. The same goes for paralegals.

    If you isolate yourself, you might think no one else understands your challenges or has the same issues as you. When you join other paralegals...either in person or online...you'll impact the direction of both your career and the profession.

    9. Pay attention to your instincts. Plants seem to know when to grow and when to take a rest for the winter. Paralegals need to pay attention to their instincts so they recognize industry trends and hot specialty areas to position themselves to take advantage of change.

    Reviewing salary surveys, subscribing to legal blogs, and reading journals from professional associations, such as NALA's Facts & Findings, the NALS Docket, or NFPA's National Paralegal Reporter, can accomplish this.

    One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides.
    ~W.E. Johns, The Passing Show

    10. Transplanting can have big results. The Peonies in my garden grew so large that they were bursting out of their space so I moved them to a new area and they're thriving. Your career may need a 'transplant' to a new locale...either a new specialty area or even a new work environment...so that it continues to thrive. If there is no 'transplant', your career could become root bound and stop growing altogether.

    11. Sharing brings great rewards. When flowers and plants are shared with others, the joy is spread to many. When paralegals share their knowledge and expertise with their peers and with those who are new to the profession, they experience personal growth and they ensure the continued success of the profession.

    12. Perennials are committed to the long haul. There are two types of flowers: annuals and perennials. Annuals put on a show for one season but perennials return year after year and grow stronger over time.

    Paralegals who plan to be 'perennials' have vision and understand it takes time for a career to take root. They know that the steps they take today will impact their career tomorrow.

    Gardens require hard work, planning and constant attention. Ignore them and weeds will take over. Nurture them and you'll be rewarded with beautiful flowers. Your career is your garden. You have the talent and ability to survive and to thrive, to produce a career that is beautiful and satisfying. Will you choose flowers or weeds?

    The most noteworthy thing about gardeners is that they are
    always optimistic, always enterprising, and never satisfied.
    They always look forward to doing something better
    than they have ever done before.

    ~Vita Sackville-West

    Your Challenge: Follow these 12 lessons to establish a flourishing paralegal career.

    ==============================

    © 2011 Vicki Voisin, Inc.

    Vicki Voisin, "The Paralegal Mentor", delivers simple strategies for paralegals and other professionals to create success and satisfaction by setting goals and determining the direction they will take their careers. Vicki spotlights resources, organizational tips, ethics issues, and other areas of continuing education to help paralegals and others reach their full potential. She publishes a Paralegal Strategies, a weekly enewsletter for paralegals and co-hosts The Paralegal Voice, a monthly podcast produced by Legal Talk Network.

    More information is available at www.paralegalmentor.com where subscribers receive Vicki's 151 Tips for Your Career Success.

  • 19 Jun 2011 11:13 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    Click the link to read an article on HOW DO YOU BECOME A LEADER shared by Cindy Welch, RP, Director, Region II. Your involvement with the Association will let you network with your piers, grow professionally and personally, give to the community and enhance your resume. Why wait?

  • 19 May 2011 7:41 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    I would like to share with you an article written by Jamie Collins and published in the IPE monthly newsletter. Click the link to read about Top Ten Pointers for New Paralegals: Climbing the Paralegal Ladder.

    Please feel free to subscribe by sending e-mail to ipefeedback@nbi-sems.com.

     

  • 28 Apr 2011 3:53 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    Office Politics? Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil!

    By Vicki Voisin, ACP

    Office Politics – strategies people use to achieve personal advantage -- are a fact of life. Some are “good” and some are “bad”.

    When thought of as “bad” office politics, reference is to the tactics people use for their advantage at the expense of others, adversely affecting the work environment and relationships. “Good” office politics help you promote yourself.

    You may hate them, but like it or not, you need to learn to handle office politics well to ensure your career success. If you refuse to deal with the 'bad politics' churning around you, your career may suffer as others take unfair advantage. If you avoid practicing 'good politics', you may miss opportunities to promote and advance your career.

    Office politics may be compared to navigating a minefield. To deal with them effectively, you must accept the reality that they exist and then develop tactics to deal with them. The “See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil” approach is best. Here are some tips to help you survive:

    Hear No Evil

    Disregard Biased Comments. Negative feelings about a co-worker often result from something another co-worker says. Don’t pay attention to biased comments. Instead, get to know your co-workers and form your own opinions. Once you know someone well and understand what motivates them, you may find they’re not so bad after all.

    Don’t hold a grudge.  Anger toward a co-worker only serves to adversely affect your work. Instead of bottling up your anger and risking an emotional explosion, take steps to diffuse the crisis regardless of who may be at fault. Once the problem is resolved let go of your anger -- treat the problem as history and move on.

    See No Evil.

    Observe your co-workers. It’s always helpful to know where other people stand. Take some time to observe your co-workers and assess their political power. Who are the real influencers? Are there groups or cliques? Who gets along with whom? Who are the chronic complainers and crisis seekers?

    Build relationships that with peers as well as bosses. Be part of multiple networks so you can keep your finger on the pulse of the firm. Get to know politically powerful people in the firm or company. Build relationships with them but never fear them. Be friendly with everyone but don’t align yourself with one group or another.

    Speak No Evil.

    Treat everyone with respect and kindness. No matter how upset you are about something or how upset you are with a co-worker or client, keep your comments to yourself, put on a smile and greet them warmly.

    Avoid joining with voices that criticize your boss, the firm or the company. Never complain to a client or anyone outside the firm about internal conflicts. This only sheds a bad light on everyone, especially you. 

    Don’t be boastful.  Co-workers perceive you as bragging, you may have a label you don’t want. It’s best to let your work speak for itself or let somebody else do the bragging for you. Of course, it does no harm to point out to your boss what you have contributed and achieved beyond the call of duty. If you make a mistake, admit it and fix it...don't blame it on someone else.

    Beware – ultimatums may be very dangerous.  Before you rush to a manager and lay down an ultimatum, consider what the results might be. If you get someone fired, you may pay a steep price with your co-workers. If you are ignored and nothing is done, you are no further ahead and you’ve made it known that you are so unhappy you’re ready to leave the firm. When and if you decide to take your problems to a manager, always be able to offer constructive solutions.

    Additional Steps You Should Take.

    Concentrate on your work. Be the best at what you do, no matter the size of the job, and always leave your mark of excellence on your work. Be punctual, meet deadlines and follow the rules (written or unwritten) of the firm or company. Become an expert (the go-to person) in at least one area. Watch for trends in the industry. Always be learning new systems and software. 

    You may have to make a change. If the chaos of office politics becomes too difficult to handle, you may have to request a transfer or decide that another job is the best route for you. Do not wait until you are completely broken down to do this. Know the danger signs and when it’s time to quit. If at all possible, land the new job before letting go of the current one.

    There’s a saying that you attract more bees with honey than with vinegar. This certainly applies to office politics. Always weigh your options. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Be patient. Be open to new opportunities.

    When you learn to deal with office politics, you will regain your self-confidence and enjoy your work more. You’re a winner!


    Do visit www.paralegalmentor.com where new subscribers can access the special report titled "Is Your Computer Talking Behind Your Back'" This report is available at no cost and offers inside information on how the careless use of technology can result in the disclosure of confidential client information and/or privileged documents and information.

    The Paralegal Mentor Blog is now available. I'll be looking forward to your comments as I post more information and pictures there.

      

    Vicki Voisin, "The Paralegal Mentor", delivers simple strategies for paralegals and other professionals to create success and satisfaction by setting goals and determining the direction they will take their careers.

    Vicki spotlights resources, organizational tips, ethics issues, and other areas of continuing education to help paralegals and others reach their full potential. She publishes a weekly ezine titled Paralegal Strategies. Information is available at www.paralegalmentor.com

    She also co-hosts a monthly podcast on Legal Talk Network (www.legaltalknetwork.com).

    You may absolutely share this newsletter with people you think might enjoy it. When doing so, please forward it in its entirety, including the contact and copyright information. Thanks and enjoy!

  • 04 Apr 2011 12:28 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    By Gloria Koss, ServeNow.com

    Communication skills are something that come to us, as sociable beings, somewhat naturally. While communication can be easier for some than others, it is an important skill set to manage because those who can communicate well are in high demand in the workforce. Paralegals who have a firm grasp of these skills not only invite new employment opportunities for themselves, they can also further cement themselves in a position they currently hold and enjoy.

    For those not as skilled as they would like to be in the art of communication, some very simple tips can immediately begin improving how you interact with attorneys, clients and other professionals around the office.

    The importance of communication for paralegals
    The National Associate of Colleges and Employers (NACE) recently released a study conducted to discover the most desirable skills that employers sought in potential employees. These same desires apply to existing employees, especially in the legal profession. What was at the very top of their list? Communication skills. That’s right, a good communicator is more desirable to employers than those with sharp analytical skills, good team players, those with sharp technical abilities, and even individuals with a solid work ethic. What types of skills fall into this most-wanted category, and why are they so important?

    Obviously, communicating means the ability to effectively transfer information to other individuals. More specifically, there are three general types of communication skills: expressive, listening, and overall management. Body language, facial expression, and word choice all fall into the category of expression. Being able to absorb information through hearing falls into listening, and works in close conjunction with expressive skills. These skills work together to gather spoken information and then relay it to the area that interprets the information in conjunction with the speaker’s body language and facial expression. The overall management function then brings the entire experience into one melting pot, which allows the individual to interpret the encounter and react appropriately to it.

    On the surface, these functions manifest themselves in individuals who are effective public speakers, those who can produce high-quality written presentations and communications, and those who conduct themselves with grace in the courtroom, in meetings, or with clients. Superficially, it seems like something we do naturally, almost unconsciously. However, as with every other aspect of life, there are always some who do it more effectively than others, and those individuals are more likely to get the coveted position you are competing for. Why is that?

    Employers want to hire effective communicators because they want people who can present their firm as the most professional, educated, and capable to their clients. Clear and concise communication, whether written or verbal, does that. Employers also state that paralegals who are great communicators reduce confusion, stress, and errors in the workplace. Also, while this skill set is the most desired by employers, they also state that it is the rarest. With that said, how do we make sure we are showing top-notch communication skills in the office?

    1) Be a contributor
    Show your interest in your firm by contributing at meetings or other times when feedback is solicited. By taking an active role, not only do you ooze confidence, you show your co-workers and bosses that you are invested in your job. Weekly firm meetings can sometimes be tedious, but participating early on shows your bosses and co-workers that you take your position seriously and can contribute to the overall success of the firm. Speaking up in the first third of the meeting shows you are eager, but willing to let others speak first.

    2) Radiate confidence
    Many times when we are trying to be polite we actually undermine our credibility or emanate a lack of confidence. Look others in the eye when speaking to them or when they speak to you. Hold their gaze, as being the first to drop eye contact can sometimes be seen as submission.

    Also, when speaking and writing, choose your words carefully. Avoid beginning sentences with words such as “I could be wrong …,” “I could be forgetting something …,” or other defensive signal phrases because they undermine you as an individual. Avoid ending statements with “OK?” or “don’t you agree?” because these words can make it appear that you are seeking the approval of others or are otherwise unsure of your decisions or statements. By making better word choices paralegals can project an air of confidence and professionalism to those around them in the workplace, instilling a reciprocal sense of worthiness in the eyes of those around them.

    3) Look prepared, even when you’re not
    When arriving for or sitting through meetings, avoid fidgeting, shifting your eyes frequently, and making other types of harried movements, as they make you appear unprepared. The fewer movements you make, the stronger the message you send others that you are cool, calm, collected, and in control. Numerous shifty or fidgety movements indicate exactly the opposite; you can appear nervous, uncertain, or otherwise project a negative image to your co-workers and clients, making them question your ability to manage the situation at hand.

    4) Make the most of small talk
    Being able to talk with co-workers, bosses, and clients comfortably projects respect, confidence, and professionalism in the workplace. Take an interest in those around you and use tidbits of information to your advantage. For instance, remembering that a client has a grandson in kindergarten and asking a question about him while you wait with that client in the hallway for your case to be called not only makes you appear more personable and caring, it can also help to calm nerves in otherwise unpleasant circumstances.

    Gloria Koss is a former paralegal and a staff writer for ServeNow.com, a trusted network of local, pre-screened process servers. ServeNow.com also offers ServeManager - a web-based software to help legal professionals assign, track and manage service of process all in one place. Learn more at
    www.ServeNow.com or www.ServeManager.com.

  • 26 Jul 2010 7:32 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    Take These 3 Steps for Career Success
    By Vicki Voisin, ACP


    Throughout my career, I have immersed myself in learning. Because I have always worked as a paralegal, I have primarily attended and spoken at law-related seminars. Lately I've become interested in time and space organization, so I've been learning a lot about that, too. I've discovered, though, that it is also important to take ample time to focus on personal development .

    Why? Because it's essential that you work harder on yourself than you do on your job. If you do this, the job will take care of itself and your life will be successful.

    Over the years, I have learned 3 steps for success that I want to share with you. I refer to these as my "a-has" because they have helped me focus on very important areas of my life and they have also helped me create a successful career.

    1. You are the average of the five PEOPLE you hang around the most. This is a principle taught by Jim Rohn, whom some call the father of personal development. A light bulb went off when I heard this. It made me realize that it's necessary to surround myself with people I want to be like....people who are success oriented, who have vision, who have spirit and dedication.

    The key is to make a concerted effort to be with people who think big and talk about great ideas, instead of the headlines of People Magazine, the price of gas (how depressing!), or how much they hate their jobs and their bosses. Attitudes and levels of thinking are contagious. Beware!

    There are tons of great seminars offered both where you live and all around the country. You have no excuse not to get out there and surround yourself with people who have positive attitudes and like-minded goals.


    2. Your ENVIRONMENT must support your goals. Your success depends more on your environment than you may realize so it's imperative that you give yourself an environment that supports you at the level you want to attain, not the level you are at now. There are three areas of your environment that you should give your utmost attention:

    • Your physical environment. Do you love your work space? Do you have enough room to work comfortably? Does this space encourage you to think? Are you surrounded by things that are beautiful and bring good memories, such an eye-catching piece of art?

    We can't all have a gorgeous view from our offices, or even a window, but we can create an environment that brings us peace and tranquility without spending a lot of money. Little touches like flowers, photos of friends, family or your recent vacation, even an interesting paperweight, can make you feel good.

    • Your emotional environment. Do you get the support you need from your friends, family and co-workers? These people are not mind readers. It's up to you to ask for what you need from them.

    I have a great group of friends that I can bounce ideas off, ask for help with problem solving, and share my successes. Of course, sometimes I just need to vent! If your friends, family and co-workers can't provide this, you may need to find a career coach or a support group that will.

    • Your intellectual environment. It's crucial that you feed your brain with new ideas and up-to-the-minute knowledge. Are you stimulating your brain every day? If not, you need to find a way to make this happen...to expose yourself to creative and innovative thinking that will stretch and increase your brain power. Again, seminars, teleclasses and books/audio programs are helpful. I really enjoy listening to these on my iPod so I can learn while I take a walk or when I travel...this makes a long drive, a lengthy wait in an airport, or my time on an airplane zip by. My personal favorite is downloading books to my iPod from my membership at www.audible.com. iTunes also has many podcasts and other programs available at little or no cost.

    3. Your future is created by your habits. It only makes sense that your daily habits will create long-lasting effects in your life. The habits you establish today will determine the results you have tomorrow.

    If you want to be healthy and in shape, you must have the habits of a person who is healthy and in shape. If you want to be a successful paralegal, you must have the habits of a successful paralegal. If you want to be a leader, you must have the habits of a leader. None of these things will happen tomorrow unless you establish habits today that will lead to the results you want.


    Your challenge: Visualize YOUR tomorrow. What kind of person do you want to be? Where do you want your career to take you? Then decide: What new habit can you put into place now that will make your tomorrow what you want it to be? What can you do today to create a work environment that gives you joy? What will you do to surround yourself with people who will support you and who will be a positive influence? Ask yourself these questions now so that you can create habits for yourself today that will result in the tomorrow you want.


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    ©2010 Vicki Voisin, Inc.

    Vicki Voisin, "The Paralegal Mentor", delivers simple strategies for paralegals and other professionals to create success and satisfaction by achieving goals and determining the direction they will take their careers. Vicki spotlights resources, organizational tips, ethics issues, and other areas of continuing education to help paralegals and others reach their full potential. She publishes a weekly ezine titled Paralegal Strategies and co-hosts The Paralegal Voice, a monthly podcast produced by Legal Talk Network. More information is available at www.paralegalmentor.com.

  • 23 May 2010 4:23 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    How do you handle change?
    By Vicki Voisin, ACP

    Change is inevitable.
    It is the one constant in life and something everyone experiences. These transitions are not always easy to navigate, though, and it's sometimes difficult to view them with optimism.

    Here are five ways to see the positive in these transitions and to embrace changes as they come your way:

    1. Don't dwell on the past. There are many emotions associated with change that may keep you from moving forward. Instead of spending time stewing about what you were or what you had, focus on where you are going and what you want to be. Then devise a plan to create that future.

    2. Focus on the positive. Your attitude toward the change will have a direct effect on the outcome of the process. If you concentrate on success and view change as an opportunity that exists to teach you or to lead you to something better, you'll find it easier to make the transition. Change may lead you to something new and rewarding that you wouldn't have had the ability to pursue before. It may lead you to new friends, a new job, or a new hobby.

    3. Focus on others. Instead of spending time feeling sorry for yourself because of the changes you're going through, focus on other people. You'll feel better if you help someone else. You may also realize that, compared to the problems of other people, what you're going through really isn't so difficult after all. Do what you can to make their lives better and you'll find you've made your own life better in the process.

    4. Accept reality. Here's a favorite saying: "It is what it is!" This certainly fits when you think about change. Your transition will be easier if you accept the change for what it is and understand that it's out of your control. Try to relax and be open to possibilities. You'll end up in a better place.

    5. Surround yourself with supportive people. You may feel isolated by the transition you're experiencing and you may think no one else can help you. Quite the contrary! Change will be easier if you let other people into your life. Look to family, friends, co-workers, spiritual leaders...anyone who will listen, encourage and support you. They'll also help you remain in the loop, stay optimistic and hopeful.

    Here are some questions to consider when you're struggling with change:
    • What's good about this?
    • How can I make this work for me?
    • What does this change allow me to do that I couldn't do before?
    • What positive results will come from this change?

    Change is inevitable and usually not something you can control. What you can control is your attitude and how you allow the change to affect you. When change occurs, don't settle for merely surviving. Instead, make the change work for you...grow and thrive!

    ***Note: OK...a new paint color on the lighthouse I see several times every day isn't a life changing event; but after considering the above, I'm ready to move forward and accept that it's out of my control. The lighthouse is red...the lighthouse is beautiful!

    ========================>
    ©2010 Vicki Voisin, Inc. 

    Vicki Voisin, "The Paralegal Mentor", delivers simple strategies for paralegals and other professionals to create success and satisfaction by achieving goals and determining the direction they will take their careers. Vicki spotlights resources, organizational tips, ethics issues, and other areas of continuing education to help paralegals and others reach their full potential. She publishes a weekly ezine titled Paralegal Strategies and co-hosts The Paralegal Voice, a monthly podcast produced by Legal Talk Network. More information is available at www.paralegalmentor.com
  • 29 Apr 2010 9:07 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)
     
    The link below is to a free e-book on Finding and Realizing Your Professional Path. Please feel free to share.
     
     
     
     
    Sincerely,
    Mariana
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